Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: If We Take the Time to Administer It, We Must Take the Time to Use It! #SOL18
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Slice of Life: If We Take the Time to Administer It, We Must Take the Time to Use It! #SOL18

It is that time of year again …

Teachers are crazed trying to complete common assessments and turn them in on time!  Here are three things we hope you SLOW DOWN to do:

  1. If you are using an assessment that identifies a student’s reading level, keep it in perspective. It is only one measure and it is not a perfect science.  While, we think it is important to know the type of text that is comfortable for a student, how a student approaches an unknown word, and how a student comprehends a short text, we have seen teachers give several levels of these types of  assessment to the same child trying to determine the exact text level for this student.  We try our best to only give it once to each student.  Even if the text is a bit easy or difficult, as long as you can identify a teaching point or two, you have the essential information you need.
  2. As you finish an assessment with a student make sure you document what you noticed instructionally right then. Our observations, hunches, and questions are just as important as the miscues, self-corrections, and responses a student provides.  If we don’t take the time to record this critical formative data, we might forget the subtleties we noticed in the moment.  While a text level does help us match our students to books, it does not tell us what a student needs to learn.  We need to consider these varied sources of information to inspire and instruct our readers.
  3. We always take the time to informally talk with students about their reading lives while we are administering common assessments.  It is important to ask students what, when, how, why and where they like to read.  We also give them time to reflect on the assessment:
    • What are your strengths?
    • What do you think you need to learn?
    • What goals to do you have as a reader?
    • What do you notice about yourself as a reader?

We show them what we noticed by sharing the recording forms, talking about our analysis, and setting some goals together. Students can’t get better at something if they don’t know what they are trying to learn.

We may not always have a choice about which common assessments we administer or how many we have to administer, but we do have the power to choose how we use them.  If we are going to take the time to assess our students, we must allow ourselves time to gather information and share this information with our students.  Otherwise, our students will remain a number, letter or level!

Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Deb, Kathleen, Kelsey, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum from Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers, and teachers here.     

6 Comments
  • Erika Victor
    Posted at 11:50h, 25 September Reply

    It would be great if every administrator read this. Sometimes I think we get so hung up in the assessing that we miss the point- it should be informing our teaching and not be an endpoint.

  • Lisa Corbett
    Posted at 21:04h, 25 September Reply

    I completed my running records two weeks ago, but as I sat with one group I realized I still wasn’t sure what to do with them! They are reading above grade level, have good comprehension and fluency. I had to sit down and read with them again as a group so I could get some idea of where to go next with them! I love your advice to not just label students with a level and be done with it. There is so much more to assessing reading!

  • Amanda Potts
    Posted at 02:23h, 26 September Reply

    I love your suggestions about adding student reflection to the reading discussions. I have just begun allowing my students to do daily independent reading at the high school level, so every piece of advice I get about conferencing helps. I am trusting the process, but boy do I feel like a newbie!

  • Christine Baldiga
    Posted at 02:36h, 26 September Reply

    Thanks for the not so subtle reminder to slow down and look deep. We truly can get so much information when we take the time to sit with a student and talk and watch! Thanks again for sharing your wisdom.

  • Stacey
    Posted at 02:46h, 26 September Reply

    You raise such good points here. We have the power to determine how we use the information we gather from assessments. That’s important for us to think about again and again, isn’t it?

  • Susan Kennedy
    Posted at 09:18h, 26 September Reply

    So timely to think about this now as we try to synthesize the info we are gathering.

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